Small Wars Journal

Trump, Islam, and U.S. National Security

Fri, 03/25/2016 - 11:20pm

Trump, Islam, and U.S. National Security

Masoud Kazemzadeh

Donald Trumps’ rhetoric on Islam will greatly harm U.S. national security if he were to become the Republican presidential nominee, and will have catastrophic consequences if he were to become president.  Trump has said: “I think Islam hates us,” and “There’s a tremendous hatred.”   Earlier he had said that he would temporarily ban entry of Muslims to the U.S.  He has also said that he would target families of terrorists and that he would bring back waterboarding and that the U.S. “should go a lot further than waterboarding.”

There is no doubt that we have been at war with Islamic fundamentalist terrorists (e.g., fundamentalist regime ruling Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah, al Qaeda, and ISIS).  However, we have not been at war with the overwhelming majority of Muslims.  There are 57 states that are members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the main organization encompassing all the Islamic states.  Islamic fundamentalists have captured states in only three countries: Shia fundamentalists in Iran; Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and ISIS in parts of Iraq and Syria.  Islamic fundamentalists have partial control in Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey.  With assistance from outside powers, anti-fundamentalist forces have the upper-hand in three more: Afghanistan, Yemen, and Libya.  Anti-fundamentalists control the state in 48 countries.

Islamic fundamentalists frame their jihad as the latest assertion of the 1,400-year-long war between the Christian world and Islam.  The local forces that oppose fundamentalists, instead, frame the Islamic fundamentalists as reactionary, misogynist, tyrannical threats to peace, security, and welfare of the peoples in the region.  Many academics consider Islamic fundamentalists to be the Islamic world’s equivalent to European fascism.  This is particularly the case for many Iranian pro-democracy and progressive intellectuals and political parties.  The fundamentalist and anti-fundamentalist forces in the Islamic world have been struggling for the hearts and minds of the people in the region.

Trumps’ rhetoric and framing will ensure that the fundamentalists will represent the face of Islam, and the anti-fundamentalists will be sidelined for the foreseeable future.  At least one top security official in the Islamic world has already sounded the alarm.  A conflict between the U.S. and Islam is not in the interests of the U.S.  There are about 1.6 billion Muslims in the world (including about 3.3 million in the U.S.).  There are only 322 million of us (well, minus 12 million if Trump becomes president and deports 12 million “illegal immigrants”).  As the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have demonstrated, we did not succeed in achieving our goals despite spending a great deal of blood and treasure.  Since 9/11, we have had fewer than 100 Muslim Americans commit domestic terrorism.  Even if one percent of Muslim Americans were to join jihad domestically due to the rhetoric and policies of a Trump presidency, we will have about 33,000 domestic Muslim American terrorists.

To succeed in conflict, wise leaders try to sow divisions among enemy ranks, and create unity among one’s own.  Trump is doing the exact opposite.  Today, Shia fundamentalists are at war with Sunni fundamentalists in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain.  Moreover, Shia fundamentalists are at war with anti-fundamentalist Sunni states and groups in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Lebanon.  A war between the U.S. and Islam will cause these groups to stop fighting each other and instead target Americans.  The Shia fundamentalists who rule Iran and the Sunni fundamentalists of al Qaeda hate each other.  As the bin Laden documents captured by the U.S. from the bin Laden compound and recently declassified by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence illustrate, the Shia regime has provided a great deal of assistance to al Qaeda including safe passage of funds, operatives, and weapons.

Muslims do not hate the U.S., Islamic fundamentalists do.  In actual fact, in large parts of the Islamic world, American troops work closely with their Muslim counterparts on a daily basis.  From Afghanistan to Iraq, from Jordan to Kuwait, local Muslims and Americans work together to defeat various Islamic fundamentalist terrorists.  The Middle East has been going through violent upheavals.  Much of the blame rests with the pathologies of the Middle East, but a part is due to the role of European colonialism and the U.S. and USSR policies during the Cold War.  Honest (and painful) discussions are necessary to discover the roots of and solutions to these problems.  Trump’s rhetoric not only does not help the discovery process, it will certainly cause catastrophic harm to American national security.


David Ramezani

Thu, 04/14/2016 - 5:10pm

If we consider the European Colonialism the root cause of so many of the problems in Islamic countries in general, then where do we stand on the Moslem Colonialism of countries like Iran for so long? If Colonialism is bad then we should not discriminate what kind of Colonialism. The Arab Colonialism of Persia and forcing the Islamic ideology of Arab Colonial Power on Persians should be equally evil as the rest of the Colonialisms.
Compare and contrast the two types of Colonialisms:
Unites States, China and India were former British Colonies and now they are independent countries and they either already have or on the path to make so much progress and they have gained a prominent position and have earned the respect of the International Community.
On the other hand we all these Islamic countries which were colonized by the Islamic Caliphate for many Centuries and they are perfect breading grounds for all the savagery, terrorism, rape, assassination and genocide. They are the most backward and barbarian countries in the world.
So, just by comparing the colonized countries of British Colonialism with the ones colonized by the Islamic Caliphate gives you better picture of what are the ramification of Colonialism and why and how.

David Ramezani

Sat, 04/02/2016 - 9:30am

One of the issues has been raised in this article is the impact of European Colonialism. There is no doubt that colonialism has made lots of damages, but to make that the primary root cause of all the shortcomings would be misleading. Let’s compare and contrast the two major emerging powers of China and India both of which were colonized by the British colonial power for a period of several centuries with any of Islamic countries. Despite all the damages done on these two non Islamic countries, yet they are now considered tow super powers of Asia. They play a major role in the global politics due to their own development and progress being made.
So, why can’t the Islamic countries do the same? These two non Islamic countries have surpassed by far any of the Islamic countries despite their sever scars received from the British colonialism. So, there is a much greater cause for the backwardness and savagery in the Islamic world than the issues like Colonialism, Cold War, America’s role in the region or any other issues.
We must work hard and think much deeper in order to figure out the true root cause of all the problems. We the Middle Easterners are the ones responsible for our own problems. No one is going to solve our problems for us. We can not blame the others for our own shortcomings.

David Ramezani

Thu, 03/31/2016 - 7:57pm

For many decades the Iran’s Islamic problems have been overshadowed by other problems such as some of the controversial issues during the Cold War or the issues involving the American role in the region. As a result these issues has dominated the main discourse and prevented us to have a national discussion of the real issue which is Islam and Islamic problems. Discussing Islamic problems has been a taboo and no meaningful discussion has been formed in order to get to the bottom of this matter.
In the case of Iran as well as many of the Islamic countries in the Middle East, the people who consider themselves Intellectuals has always blamed the Unites States for all of the shortcomings. It is very convenient to blame the others for your own problems. Then you do not have to think hard in order to come up with plausible solutions.
Iran’s Islamic problems existed long before the Cold War and even long before the United States became an independent country. Iran has been victimized by Islam, not by the United States or the Republican Party. Islam has made Iran very vulnerable and week. Islam has prevented Iran to develop and join the Modernity. The only way Iran can make a sustainable progress is to have a Persian Renaissance in parallel with the European Renaissance. That is the only path to modernity and a sustainable development and progress. Islam is a misogynist religion and has been a major obstacle for Iranian woman’s progress and equal rights.

David Ramezani

Wed, 03/30/2016 - 6:21pm

There is a long history of Islamic problems in Iran. The scope, magnitude and the scale of the problems that has Islamic nature in Iran are very serious and very severe with a very long history. Just one of the great many problems is the massacre of Baha'is about 170 years ago and continues even today. The American Republican Party has about 160 years of age. So, Iranian Islamic problems predate the American Republican Party.
In order to have a scholarly discussion on this issue we should not try to link the Islamic problems to Mr. Donald Trump the Presidential candidate or anyone else. By doing so, we turn this into a political debate. Discussing the Iranian Islamic problems should be a non partisan debate. Otherwise we would never accomplish anything.

David Ramezani

Tue, 03/29/2016 - 9:19pm

What is missing in the above article?
About 170 years ago Moslems in Iran committed genocide and murdered more than 22,000 Baha’is. Ever since the persecution of Baha’is continue even today and the Baha’is have been deprived of the very basic necessities of life like education and getting simple job to make ends meet.
Another issue is the genocide of Armenian committed by the Moslems in Turkey on 1915 where they murdered more than 1.5 million Armenians of all ages both male and female.
The idea of forming an Islamic government (caliphate) by using violence has been in the works at least since March 1928 when a group of Moslems in Egypt decided to create Islamic Brotherhood organization.
A very similar organization (Shia version of Islamic Brotherhood) was created in Iran on 1946 called Fadā'iyān-e Islam an Islamic terrorist organization with evil agenda.
There are other numerous evidence that Moslems continuously and systematically in various parts of the world has been trying very hard to impose their hegemony and create a global caliphate.